Lac La Biche is a large lake situated in the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion of northeastern Alberta. It has numerous bays and rocky offshore islands, as well as wide areas of shallow littoral habitat characterized by extensive submerged and emergent vegetation. The lake provides important habitat for many fish species, as well as colonial and migratory waterbirds and aquatic mammals. It supports sport and domestic fisheries and is a popular recreational destination for swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and nature appreciation.
In recent years, Lac La Biche has experienced declines in water quality and fish populations, leading to widespread blue-green algal blooms and fishery closures. The Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) project for Lac La Biche was initiated in 2016 to respond to community concerns over the health of the lake. This project characterizes the physical and biological features of the lake’s foreshore so that sensitive areas can be identified and subsequently protected during shoreline development. While this method has been applied to several lakes in British Columbia and successfully incorporated into land-use planning there, the Lac La Biche SHIM project, once completed, will be the first example of its use elsewhere in Canada.